Sunday, May 16, 2010

Longrain Restaurant & Bar, Surry Hills

85 Commonwealth St
Call 02 9280 2888 for lunch bookings only

Kids, remember that time when I went to this event called Taste of Sydney and I really wanted to try the yellow curry from the Longrain but was too full? Well, back in 2010 when your father and I and Uncle Tom were poor students, we decided to splurge on an expensive Thai meal in the trendy warehouse part of town. The maître d’ had told me on the phone that no bookings were taken for dinner, so we turned up a bit before dinnertime and had a drink in the bar.

Left to right: Pear and Cinnamon Sour ($16), Bloody Longrain ($16)

While the cocktails were delicious, there were a few let-downs from here on in. For a restaurant with a Chef's Hat, there was no mystique, no great attention to detail and most importantly, no pampering of the patrons. The staff were friendly enough but the way the restaurant was organised did nothing but make us feel unimportant. We had to get there early and line up (I hadn't done this since Ticketek wasn't online), we were seated on a long row of communal tables and we were served by a different waiter each time. I understand that this could be valued as unpretentious dining but it came at the expense of good service. At this point, we were willing to shrug this off because we were here for the food.

Clockwise: freshly shucked oysters with red chili, lime juice and deep fried eschalots ($4 each); red curry of organic grass-fed beef with green peppercorns and Thai basil ($41); eggnet with pork, prawn, peanuts, bean sprouts and sweet vinegar ($28.50); caramelised pork hock with five spice and chili vinegar ($29.50)

For the most part, I wasn't impressed with the food. The oysters were amazing, but the flavours in the eggnet salad were confused. The caramelised pork hock was meant to have a crispy outside but for me it was like eating extremely overdone pork. The red curry sauce was nice, but the way the beef was cooked did not do grass-fed beef justice.

Salad of crisp organic duck breast, sweet fish sauce, green mango and holy basil ($38?)

This was my favourite dish of the night. Unfortunately, this isn't what we ordered. I remember reading from the menu "salad of braised duck" and that's what I ordered. Braised duck isn't on the online menu, but a salad of crisp organic duck breast is, so I guess that's what we had because the duck wasn't braised. Only, we paid $44, not the $38 it says on the online menu?

It's a shame that Longrain didn't live up to my expectations, because I really wanted to love the place, but I think exceptionality and consistency are nothing short of requisites for restaurants of this price level. If this were an architecture and design blog, I would have plenty to rave about, so it wasn't a wasted evening at all. However, I can't help but think I'd find better at a Thai restaurant in the West for a fraction of the price.

So kids, I'm telling you this story because my very well-fed wallet and I can laugh about this now, and even though I didn't really notice back then, this was the beginning of my very own Chef's Hat adventure.


  1. Great post Lily, it feels like I stepped into an episode of how I met your mother.

  2. Longrain's been a well-known institute for quite many a year yet I still haven't made it there to try it out for myself. Thanks for the insight and eventually...we'll try for eventually.

  3. i've eaten at longrain at least twice now and my favourites have been the salt and pepper barramundi and the soft shell crab. i believe the eggnet was a MasterChef dish of last season which is one of their signature dishes. that's a pity you didn't enjoy it. i find lining up early for a table a bit of a let down but if you get their early enough you should be able to get a table quite easily these days i think. it can be quite pricey but if you're sharing with about 5-6 people if can be quite reasonable for the quality you get although the drinks/cocktails do add up if you're not careful :-) have you tried Spice I Am around the corner on Wentworth Avenue. it's a cheaper option but not as nice seating and you'll have to line up even longer to get a seat. but far less pretentiousness.

  4. Oh, it's such a pity that you didn't enjoy it. My experience there was good - quite like the eggnet and pork hock. But I agree with you, Longrain puts the wallet on a mean diet. Plus, the dim lighting is a nightmare for foodbloggers.

  5. @ Mark
    Yay you get the reference! :)

    @ Rita
    It's definitely worth a try.

    @ Simon
    Haha the cocktails are well-worth the money! My boyfriend's sister actually told me about Spice I Am after we went to Longrain. Will definitely check it out, thanks!

    @ foodwink
    Haha what lighting, right? Nice ambience though.